The Art Institute Proudly Presents Monet and Chicago – September 5, 2020 through January 18, 2021

Chicago has a longstanding passionate romance with the Father of Impressionism, Claude Monet, as evidenced by the member preview lines circling the Art Institute on the exhibition’s opening on Thursday September 3. Unfortunately, Monet spurned our deep affection and attraction to his body of work. He really wanted France to recognize the beauty of his modern art techniques and felt all his paintings were wrongly traveling to the unworthy United States. Thankfully, though Chicago embraced the Magic of Monet since its inception despite Monet’s reluctance to reciprocate. This exhibition showcases the Art Institute’s exceptional holdings alongside artwork collections from historical luminaries of Chicago.

Stacks of Wheat (End of Summer), 1890/91

We have to thank Bertha and Potter Palmer, Martin A, Ryerson. and Annie Swan Coburn, for first bringing the attention of Monet’s art to Chicago. They were both collectors and donors to the Art Institute’s extensive collection. Bertha Honoré Palmer, one of my culinary heroes, since under her direction the brownie was created in the Palmer House kitchen to be served at the Columbian Exposition 1893 World’s Fair. Her high society connections elected her to president of the Board of Lady Manager planning for the 1893 World’s Fair. Monet was displayed at the fair, interestingly enough, none from her own collection. She had a fine eye for art and was a trend setting tour de force in cultural Chicago. Over her lifetime she owned and sold over 90 Monet paintings. The Palmers in 1891 on a trip to Durand-Ruel’s impressionist’s gallery acquired 20 Monet paintings including several from the Stacks of Wheat series. In the same year Martin A. Ryerson, the richest man in Chicago at age 36, also bought his first of many Monets. He was a lawyer, businessman, philanthropist, and art connoisseur also serving as a trustee and early vice president of the Art Institute. Annie Swan Coburn resided on South Michigan Avenue with her husband a patent attorney and founder of the Union Club in Chicago. On her death she donated more than 70 late 19th century and early 20th century art works to the Art Institute. These early donations helped shape the Chicago Art Institute’s distinguished reputation.

On the Bank of Seine, Bennecourt, 1868

In 1888 the Chicago Daily Tribune opined “Why go to Paris since Paris has come to Chicago?” Well since traveling has been restricted due to Covid-19 make sure you make reservations to view over seventy rarely or never seen Monet paintings from the Art Institute’s collection as well as paintings on loan from private Chicago collectors. Gloria Groom, Chair and David and Mary Winston Green Curator Painting and Sculpture of Europe have brought together an integrated history of Chicago after the 1871 Great Fire with new technologies presenting a scientific study of the modern techniques Monet used in his paintings. Included in this exhibition is a marvelous whole wall video advancing our knowledge of the genius, obsessive nature and magic of Monet’s work.

Waterloo Bridge, Sunlight Effect, 1903

His London Fog scenes evoke feelings and expressiveness difficult to define. He captures both beauty and feelings. Monet was the most prolific of the impressionists devoted to the philosophy of painting one’s perceptions of nature. The following Monet quote explains his purpose, ” I want the unobtainable. Other artists paint a bridge, a house, a boat, and that’s the end. They are finished. I want to paint the air which surrounds the bridge, the house, the boat, the beauty of the air in which these objects are located, and that is nothing short of impossible.” Monet paints the impossible.

The Beach at Sainte-Adresse, 1867

Lead support for Monet and Chicago is generously contributed by The Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Fund. Lead Corporate Sponsers CHASE J.P. Morgan

Water Lily Pond at Giverny 1900

Advance ticket purchase is required for the public. Members do not need to reserve tickets. Face coverings are required for your entire museum visit. No food is allowed. You may bring a small water bottle. On our visit we noticed there is still confusion over the hours changing. Please check the chart below:

DaysMembers OnlyPublic
Monday10–11 a.m.11 a.m.–6 p.m.
Tuesday–WednesdayClosedClosed
Thursday–Friday12–1 p.m.1–8 p.m.
Saturday–Sunday10–11 a.m.11 a.m.–6 p.m.

Photos: Courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago

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